Susie’s Volunteering Story for Love Beyond the Orphanage
It was in May of 2019, when I first heard about Love Beyond the Orphanage – a nonprofit organization helping young adults. The organization profoundly resonated with me. Maybe because I was adopted from South Korea many years ago, or maybe because I have two sons and I couldn’t image them having to navigate into adulthood, alone without family and the extended circle of friends and connections.
Whatever it was, it touched me way down deep, and I want to become a part of helping these young adults become the best version of who they were created to be, so that they may flourish.
This past January, I was able to travel to South Korea to participate in the Lunar New Year event the organization hosts each year for the young adults. For those returning, it was like a family reunion, while for those who attended for the first time, they were probably a bit nervous at least until they saw how welcoming everyone was.
At first, I was concerned about the language difference because I do not speak Korean, but I was pleasantly surprised that many spoke English.
My being present with them was important. Hopefully, it communicated to them that we see them and that we know life can be hard, but they are not alone. What a privilege it was to meet everyone and get to know them, even just a little bit. They really enjoyed being together and were so generous and welcoming. We laughed a lot, played lots of games, and ate a lot of delicious Korean food. I felt I was with family, and I am so glad I joined Love Beyond the Orphanage for this occasion.
After the event, we met with those who intended to apply for housing/living expense scholarships. We also wrote cards to the scholarship recipients who will be completing their education this year.
At the end of the experience, I felt a mixture of emotions. On one hand I felt elated, full of joy about getting to meet and interact with the young adults. While on the other hand, I felt sadness. I grieved about their challenging situation that many will have to encounter alone.
Now that I am back home, I can’t stop thinking about their plight, that of living with the stigma of being an orphan and not having family in a culture that doesn’t fully accept them. I yearn to help. I’ve been asking myself how can my family help make a difference? How can we cultivate a sense of belonging among this group from afar?
My hope and prayer for each one of these young adults is that they would each discover gifts of reciprocal friendship and mentors that will come alongside them in life.
Overall, my adoption experience has taught me that through the generosity of another, in my case my adopted parents, I was able to experience security and safety; I was loved and valued just for being me; and I will always belong to the Hurst family. I say all this not because of any merit of my own, but because of another’s extravagant generosity, I had an abundance of opportunity. I would not have had this if I I had remained in Korea. I was able to go to college, found a noble profession, and experience life that comes with these activities. Now the tables are turned, my family and I would like to extend that generosity to others. And because the story of these aged-out orphans in many ways intersects with my own story of being orphaned in Korea, Love Beyond the Orphanage allows us to give back in a memorable way.
In the future, Lord willing, I plan to continue financially supporting the organization and to participate in at least one event in Korea for these young adults.
Thank you for letting me share my thoughts.